Friday, October 15, 2010

Getting the Creative Juices Flowing.

Hey everyone,

Sorry for the multi-week delay in posting.  Life has been incredibly busy, both in a good and bad way.  But good ole' Nth is back in the swing of things!  Today, I thought I'd talk about creativity, and how to enhance it. Creativity is one of those things we struggle to define, but readily know it when we see it.  Where we tend to run into roadblocks is in attempting to measure it and enhance it.  Well, I can't address the first task too competently, but when it comes to enhancing creativity, I believe I may know a useful thing or two that you may find interesting. 

Aside from getting a good night's rest  and putting some distance between you and your problems by daydreaming,  you can also:

1)Throw a little spontaneity in your life. 

The Odyssey of the Mind is an annual creative thinking tournament that I sadly never had the chance to participate in.  They have a number of practice problems and spontaneous problems that you can try on your own time.  Now, we adults are fully aware that real-life often throws us enough spontaneous problems to contend with. Like, "What do you mean I'm being audited?'"  Or, "What do you mean you hid cocaine in my car?" Yes, I feel you. Undoubtedly the very thought of actually looking for more surprises to solve in your everyday life makes the blood pressure rise while you utter, "Adding more grease to my fire?  No thank you." 

 Spontaneous problem-solving isn't for everyone,  and we at Mentathlete understand that.  For others looking to tap into their creativity well, there is

2)  Neurobics (Neural aerobics)

Getting yourself out of your comfort zone, and having to make adjustments is something you should welcome a little more often.  It turns out little things like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, or trying a new restaurant can actually help your brain form new neuronal connections which is great for mental flexibility and agility.  Symbolically enough, creativity itself is often about forcing two things to connect that at first glance seem unconnected.  Another way to make connections--conceptual, neuronal, and social-- is to

3) Do some creative writing. 

One of the best ways I personally get the innovative juices flowing is too start writing.  Poetically enough, November starts the National Novel Writing Month project, better known as NaNoWriMo.  From their website:

"National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down."

I actually did the NaNoWriMo challenge for the first time last year; talk about a head rush.  I did it with a couple of friends who were NaNo veterans, which made it more memorable and energizing.  There's something about knowing your friends are also working on their own creative projects with you.   And if you're looking for a mind-stretching, creativity nurturing exercise, then writing a novel in a month (or at least trying to) would be it. 

I strongly encourage you to sign up for the NaNoWriMo project for next month.  You'll find your imagination being forced to make connections and clever shortcuts as you attempt to put novelty into your novel.  But you probably want to start on an outline and general concept for your opus right now.  I've already began the outline for mine.  It's a novel put to rhyme.  The title is "Complex."  I'll share it with you at the end of November.  Hopefully I'll get to read yours as well.  

Until next time.